FDA unveils electronic database to identify food safety problems reported by companies

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FDA requires faster food safety reporting

WASHINGTON — Food makers must alert government officials of potentially contaminated products within 24 hours under a new rule designed to help federal regulators spot food safety issues sooner.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday unveiled a new electronic database where manufacturers must notify the government if they believe one of their products is likely to cause sickness or death in people or animals.

Regulators said the database will help the FDA prevent widespread illness from contaminated products and direct inspectors to plants that pose a high safety concern.

“There’s been a lag time; we learn about problems after people get sick,” said Michael Taylor, senior adviser to the FDA’s commissioner. “This is intended to inform us of contamination problems before people get sick.”

The law creating the database was passed in 2007, after Congress criticized the FDA for its handling of safety problems with a range of foods and drugs.

The FDA has struggled since then to manage a spate of food-safety recalls, including national outbreaks of salmonella linked to peppers and peanut butter. President Barack Obama earlier this year pledged to improve the safety of the nation’s food supply, after tainted peanut butter from a Georgia plant sickened hundreds of Americans, causing one of the largest food recalls in recent history.

“Working with the food industry, we can swiftly remove contaminated products from commerce and keep them out of consumers’ hands,” Taylor told reporters. Many companies already voluntarily submitted reports about possible contamination, but the new law “makes this a duty that all food facilities have,” he added.

The food industry welcomed the new database, but the FDA must answer a number of questions about how it will work, according to a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, whose members include ConAgra Foods Inc., Kraft Foods Inc. and Nestle USA Inc..

“As with any new system … there are bound to be a number of issues to be resolved in the initial stages and we would hope that the agencies will take this into account,” said spokesman Scott Openshaw.

FDA officials also plan to use the database to analyze national trends in food safety and will report their findings to the public.

The new reporting requirements apply to all U.S. facilities that are registered with the FDA to process, pack or hold food, with the exception of infant formula and dietary supplement makers, which have separate reporting requirements.

April 27, 2010: 9:40 pm

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September 30, 2009: 4:02 am

The decision to simplify nutritional things into “plants vs. animals” is way too limiting. It skews interpretation of the research results. In the discussion above, no distinction is made between the various types of animal products. In the future, more sophisticated research will begin to give better answers. However, I want to offer some opinions that people can take advantage of right away. Start with a predominantly plant-based whole food diet like Dr. Fuhrman recommends, and add a small amount of clarified butter (ghee) to it. (If you can tolerate milk, consider adding a small amount of non-homogenized whole milk too.) See if you get the needed “boost” in energy or well-being that you think you are missing from not eating meat. I propose that it is not the meat or fish that you are missing from your diet. Take a look at the article on my site for more details.

I would like to hear from people who have earnestly tried healthy vegetarian diets like Dr. Fuhrman’s in the past without success. My own experience is that no amount of B-12 or DHA or other vitamin supplementation, no amount of dedication, and no amount of sticking to the best quality whole foods would make the pure vegetarian diet work well - especially for someone who is an athlete or active person. I have seen this hundreds of times in all types of people.

At this point, most people assume that animal protein (specicially meat or fish) is what they need to add to the diet. I want to propose that this is an untested and unproven assumption.

It could be just as likely that micronutrients found in animal fat (specifically butter or cream) are the missing ingredient. It may be instructional to look at old traditions that ate predominantly plant-based diets. The Ayurvedic tradition comes to mind. In this tradition, clarified butter is considered a very important supplement. It is even used as an ingredient in many Ayurvedic herbal supplements. Could it be present for reasons more than as a simple carrier?

Let me hear from you if a vegetarian diet has failed you in spite of your best intentions. How many of you automatically assumed you needed to add poultry, fish or other meat to your diet? If you are willing to try a mostly plant-based diet again, this time try adding ghee (clarified butter) and a bit of non-homogenized whole milk. I propose that you don’t need the animal protein, so don’t worry about using a lower fat milk - it’s more likely that nutrients in the animal fat are what you need a bit more of. I bet you will feel a lot better, and you will still have a diet that meets the guidelines derived from the China Study and the other good research.

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